A Firm Foundation: How to Give Your Kids the Gift of Healthy, Strong Feet


March 13, 2014.


Babies have only 22 bones in each foot at birth, but that number increases to 26 by the time they’re five years old. Those first few years are crucial as the flexible, soft cartilage develop into structured bones. Until that happens, you need to take the appropriate steps to prevent injury to those precious feet.

The shape of your child’s feet is evident by age two; tapered, square and rounded are the three main shapes.


Caring for your infant’s feet:  Take proper care of your toddler’s feet and you’ll avoid foot problems later on in life. Socks and booties should give his toes enough room to move around and straighten out.

Check the baby’s feet for blisters and signs of redness. Cut toenails straight across (to prevent ingrown toenails) and don’t forget to dry between the toes after washing.

Give your baby some bare feet time, especially around the house, to exercise his feet and toes. Tickle his feet and toes to encourage him to flex and stretch the muscles in those areas.

Don’t purchase shoes too soon. Instead, use cotton socks to keep his feet warm when it’s cold outside. Make sure to check the socks regularly for shrinkage; too tight socks will affect growth.

Common complaints caused by ill-fitting shoes: Check your infant’s feet regularly to spot potential problems early. The soft bones in your child’s feet will mold easily to fit most shoes so he might not complain if there’s a problem. Watch out for the common complaints listed below.

Blisters: Blisters form as a result of new or ill-fitting shoes. Since these can be painful, it’s vital that you look for signs before they develop especially since an infant cannot communicate that the shoe hurts.

Take your child for an expert fitting to see whether his feet have grown. Retailers like John Lewis specialise in shoes for the entire family and will provide an expert fitting for your toddler.

Avoid socks and shoes until the blister dries up and use antiseptic on the area if there’s broken skin. Never burst the blister as it could lead to infection.

In-growing toenails: As the toenail grows under the skin, the area will appear swollen and red. This problem most often develops when toenails are not cut correctly. Cut the child’s toenails straight across, not in a curve. Don’t cut the nails too short or curved in at the sides. If you follow the line of the nail at the tip of the toe, you’ll get it right. Talk to your doctor if you observe redness or swelling.

Athlete’s foot: Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus and is evident by a moist rash, which leads to redness and itching between the toes. While this problem is not very common among babies and toddlers, there’s a chance your child could get it if he spends a lot of time at the pool. This is because fungus thrives in the warm and damp area around the pool.

Prevention is simple: dry the entire foot, including the areas between the toes after swimming. Use cotton socks, which draw moisture away from the feet.

Corns:  Corns are thickened areas of skin caused by constant rubbing or pressure from ill-fitting shoes. Your baby could avoid corns altogether if you check for redness or pressure on the skin after you remove his shoes. If you notice anything amiss, take the baby for another fitting and get proper fitting shoes. A podiatrist can cut away the corn and recommend proper padding, footwear, and insoles to prevent them in the future.

Bunions: A bunion is an obvious deformity at the base joint in the big toe. Inflammation and pain develop as the deformity rubs against the shoe. Some shoes will aggravate the problem, but proper fitting footwear will help to alleviate the pain. Your podiatrist might recommend surgery for your baby if the problem persists.

Ram’s Horn Toenails:  Signs and symptoms of Ram’s Horn toenails include excessive thickening, curving, and discoloration of the toenails. This is most often caused by the pressure of ill-fitting shoes. Get expert help to find the right shoes for your baby and keep the nails cut short and filed, and you’ll avoid this and most other common problems associated with ill-fitting shoes.


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West Toronto Foot & Ankle Clinic Inc.

781 The Queensway, Unit N  Toronto, ON M8Z 1N4